thoughtful | convergence

a place where ideas on culture, theology, history and politics meet

First-Time Dad by John Fuller

I wrote recently on the idea that Fathers Matter.

In First-Time Dad, John Fuller provides some helpful reflections, ideas, and insights for guys about to start this incredible journey of fatherhood.

This book is not a “how-to” of being a dad. Nor is it a book on theory of parenting. It’s not an exposition of the theme from scripture. It’s not even exactly an advice book.

The best way I can think to describe it is like the conversations a young guy would have with an older, experienced dad at a coffee shop over the course of a few Saturday mornings.

Imagine the conversations you would have if you sat down and asked about:

“What expectations should I have?”

“What is fatherhood all about?”

“How do I balance time and priorities?”

“How will the baby change our family?”

“How do I love my wife and my baby’s mother?”

“What if it’s a boy? What if it’s a girl?”

Plus a few more questions…

That’s what this book is. It’s thoughtful reflections on topics like these. It’s full of great ideas and tips. It’s not a how-to book though, but a book of ideas, questions to ask, ways to think.

It was a helpful book to read in the weeks leading up to fatherhood and in the weeks since.

If you are about to become a father this would be a great book to pick up and mull over. If you know someone who is about to start that journey, this is a great gift that you could share with them.

DISCLAIMER: I received a free evaluation copy of this book. I did not receive any monetary payment nor was I required to write a positive review. I hope my comments about the book will help you evaluate whether or not the book is worth purchasing and reading.

Thoughts on 2 Months of Fatherhood

As I’m writing now, celebrating two months of fatherhood, with little Justus sitting next to me and talking away, I can say that I absolutely love being a dad. It’s so exciting to see a little person growing up in front of my eyes. I’m excited for the role I will play in his life.

Yet, maybe, just as much, I’m excited for the role that he will play in my life.

Becoming a father has changed a lot of things in life. Mostly, it has changed them for the better. It’s challenged me to be more intentional with my time, with my decisions, with my energy.

It’s forced me to be more intentional about caring for my wife and taking care of the issues around us. It’s not just me that it affects. It’s not just my wife, a grown adult, who, though looking to me for leadership, is fully capable of caring for herself, but a baby who is entirely dependent on our care.

I can’t say that I’ve responded well to all of these adjustments. It is causing me to grow though. I’ve been incredibly blessed with a wife who is an incredible mother. Also, I’ve been blessed with a son who has been extremely flexible and relatively easy.

Even so – I know that I long to be a dad who is a picture of loving leadership to my son. He is watching me.

For Father’s Day, I was given an awesome reminder of the responsibility that I have in being a father.

It came in an incredible picture of little Justus and the words of Rodney Atkins.

Photo Jun 18, 11 36 53 PM

In the lead-up to Father’s Day this past weekend, there was some insightful commentary on the role of Father’s in American culture today.

I’ll not comment extensively on it, but I’ll include the links below.

The fundamental conclusion:

Fathers matter.

This is a statement of massive importance.

Here are some links for further reflection on fathers. Also, be on the lookout for a review of John Fuller’s “First Time Dad” – coming soon.

John Stonestreet: The Good Dad
Eric Metaxas: What it Means to be a Man
Albert Mohler: Father’s Day Demonstrates Cultural Confusion
Janice Shaw Crouse: New Research Reminds Us Why Fathers Matter 

A Godward Heart by John Piper

A Godward Heart is intended in some sense to be a devotional book. In reading a few other reviews I’ve seen criticisms that it doesn’t really succeed on that front.

In some ways I can see why people would say that.

It does not follow the line of traditional devotional books in walking through a text or leaving you with a simple boiled down truth to guide your day. I’ve never been a big fan of those books, though there’s nothing wrong with those. They are many times incredibly helpful.

A Godward Heart does have a little bit of a different feel. The book is a collection of 50 short chapters designed to draw your thoughts to “treasuring the God who loves you.” They are short essays on a whole host of topics from how Christians should vote, to the question of “does God lie?”, to how to love neighbors of other faiths, to the concept of hero-worship and the “celebrity pastor.”

He also walks through a few challenging or thought provoking scripture passages like Galatians 4:18, 1 Chronicles 10, Zephaniah 3, Psalm 96:7, and more. Not exactly the most common devotional passages.

The book would best be utilized as a quick read to set your mind thinking for the day. These short “meditations” are useful for just that – meditating. The are food for thought. Not a snack for quick consumption, but something that will set you going for hours throughout the day.

If you’re familiar with John Piper’s work you’ll know that his hallmark is drawing people into big thoughts about God. He is gifted at drawing people to delight in God, who he is and what he has done.

If you are looking for that, then you’ll find much here.

So here are my words about what the book is about or you can listen to the author explain for himself:

DISCLAIMER: I received a free evaluation copy of this book. I did not receive any monetary payment nor was I required to write a positive review. I hope my comments about the book will help you evaluate whether or not the book is worth purchasing and reading.

Who do you know?

Just last week I finished up reading Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think by John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed. The book  is not new. It has been around since 2007/2008.

In short, it’s based on the Gallup World Poll data and is one of the largest data collection surveys in history. The goal is to let people speak for themselves, rather than the more typical portrayal that is given by pundits or pop culture. There’s a lot of value in it. So I’d commend it to you as a starting point for reflection and discussions.

But what I really wanted to get at it is something more basic than what’s in the book. I guess, in some sense, it is a replacement for the book. Rather than having some massive study representative of billions of people tell you what the world thinks, my question is this:

Who do you know? What do they think? 

There are many perceived conflicts in the world. Whether along religious lines or political or social issues or even theological issues, there are a whole host of opportunities to find some group of people with whom you are at odds.

I’m in no way dismissing the importance of any of these stands. Oftentimes disagreements are truly over serious issues. There are many weighty debates. Not every dispute is petty trifling. They often emerge because people hold sincere beliefs. They stand for something.

But I wonder what we know of those on the other side?

Or, as I asked above, who do you know?

Have you ever spent time with those with whom you disagree? Have you sat down for a conversation? Not a debate, but just talked about life? Have you ever “loved your neighbor” (to put it in Biblical terms)?

We can start by reading a book – to tell us “what a billion Muslims really think” – but maybe, just maybe, we’d all be better off we knew what even just one person thought.

The Myth of Progress

One of Lewis’s more subtle aims appears to be to train us (and particularly children) to be suspicious of modern myths, particularly the peculiar modern Myth of Progress. Central to this Myth is Developmentalism, the application of Evolution to all spheres of life—physical, social, political, and religious—so that everything is not merely changing, but perpetually improving. – Joe Rigney, Live Like a Narnian (Loc. 922)

There is a danger in assuming that things are constantly improving and that what is new must be better than what is old.

This thought was brought up again when listening to this interview with George M. Marsden on his book looking back at the intellectual era of the 1950s. He commented that the ideology and arguments that seemed so profound to him as a college student when he looked back now with a half century of perspective were not as insightful as they had previously appeared.

We should also take stock regarding the intellectual fads of our time. What will they look like a half century from now? We should be cautious of embracing the idea that all spheres of life are “not merely changing, but perpetually improving.”

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